Are you the type of person that doesn’t just listen to music, but finds yourself chiming in to evaluate the various aspects of the song or the artist? If so, and you’re a writer too, I’ll show you how you can get paid to write about music and voice all your thoughts on a platform that will pay you.
Whether you’re a virtuoso of music or just a huge fan of the songs that make the Billboard charts, there’s a place for music writers.
How you can make money writing about music
There are actually a few ways you can bring in the cash. First, you can become a freelance writer and earn money with various approaches.
Freelance Music Writer
As a freelance writer, you can become a music reviewer. It’s the same school of thought as a movie reviewer, only you’d focus on music. It goes without saying that you want to keep up with what’s current.
These are the types of things you’d think about as a music critic or reviewer — You’d talk about how you feel the moment you hear the song. You’d give your thoughts about the type of voice the singer has.
You’d want to speak the language of music — Blues, raspy, melodic, soulful, raw, acoustic, chromatic, offbeat, temp, vamp, ballad, etc. The key is to be appropriate to the song and speak the music lingo that will capture your audience.
In your review, you’d talk about the song features, is it a song that’s so good, you can’t get the tune out of your head. Did the vocals strike a chord? Are the lyrics clear as a bell to understand or did you have to struggle to identify with the message?
You just want to think of every angle you can to write a short, yet concise review.
Another way you can make money as a music writer is to generate interviews with singers or members of a band, whether it be someone up and coming or someone established in the industry. One way you can land those interviews is to attend a good number of concerts.
Get ahold of the key people and tell them you’re a freelance writer wanting to interview them. Some questions that come to mind are the ones that are often asked of musicians – Who influenced them in the music industry? How do they create their music, ie, do they have sessions where they just or does it happen when inspiration hits? You could also ask what’s next on their agenda, where do they see themselves in one year, five years, ten years, and so on.
Another thing you can write about as a freelance writer is you can put together top ten lists such as the Top 10 Best Blues Singers, the Top 10 Best Acoustics Guitar Players, the Top 10 Greatest Pop Groups of All Times, the Top 10 Singers to Have Influenced Music for their Generation. I’m sure you get the picture. You could literally find dozens or hundreds of those lists.
All of these write-ups could be submitted to online and print publications or blogs. We’ll talk about a few of those in a little while, but I just wanted to give you an idea of the many topics available to you.
If you’re ultra-serious and really want to go the distance writing about music, you could become a music journalist. You would write all angles of music news for print, online, or television or radio. You could write both stories and offer critiques.
A music journalist is basically a reporter who focuses on the music industry. You would spend a good bit of time researching and writing stories. If you work for the right company, you might also get invited to attend concerts and release parties, where you could interview musicians.
Unlike freelance music writers, you’d work in tandem with other professionals in the music journalism industry, such as photographers, editors, publicists, and of course, music artists.
And, not to sound like a broken record, remember that you want to know what’s relevant today and keep up with trending news in the music industry.
The great thing about a more formal job such as a music journalist is that you could advance your career and become an editor later on. It’s also a great way to build your portfolio and add this to your experience profile and get jobs a step above of wherever you are.
While a college degree isn’t really required, you not only have to know your stuff when it comes to music, you have to be a master at writing. Just as would be required of a regular reporter, you have to have excellent grammar and composition skills.
At more prestigious industries, a college degree could certainly jazz things up on your resume. Communication, English, and Journalism degrees would all be helpful.
As far as salary goes in music journalism, overall most can earn around $30,000 a year. If your earnings are piece meal, $50 to $150 per review and $100 to $500 a feature isn't unheard of.
Publications You Can Write For
Who wouldn’t want to write for the most household name in the music business? Rolling Stone is the icon of music magazines and they talk about all angles of music as they print interviews with both up and coming artists and established musicians, music reviews, and news making the music scene.
They pay more than $1 a word and if you write a thousand-word article, that’s $1,000 bucks.
M: Music and Musicians
This site profiles and interviews artists in the music industry. They’ll pay around $25 for album reviews and up to $450 for a feature article. Look at the website to find out more in depth what’s appropriate for submission.
Submit pitches to Rick Taylor at Rick@Mmusicmag.com
Paste is a leading pop-culture magazine about the arts. They like a fresh perspective and accept feature articles, trending stories, reviews, and essays. See their website for writer’s guidelines.
They pay $50 for acceptable submissions.
If drumming is your favorite music beat, DRUM! magazine might be more your speed. They accept freelance drumming articles that are informational.
They’ll pay as little as $50 for 300 word short pieces up to $300 for a cover story, which can be up to 4,000 words. Check out their writer’s guide and send your queries to the Editor-in-Chief Andy Doerschuk at email@example.com
Symphony features essays, news, and articles related to the orchestral world. They favor profiles of soloists, orchestras, and classical music trends.
Their features run around 1,500 to 3,000 words long and the payment is thought to run between $500 and $900.
If you’re new to the music writing industry, you really should start here. It’s a place you can practice your craft and write about what you want, however you want to. You can recycle old topics with a fresh perspective or pen something that no one else has done before. I guess you could say they’ll allow you to march to the beat of your own drum.
The best part is whether you’re published or not with them, they will give you their feedback. They really like to support newbies and as such, they also like to focus on more obscure talents.
They pay for page views, at 50 cents per 300 page views. It might not seem like a lot, but it adds up and you have something for your portfolio. They also promise to promote your work and will give advice on what else you can do to promote yourself.
Send them at email at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can pitch them however you’d like – as an introductory to yourself as a music writer, by showing off your portfolio or send them a full article or simple pitch.
So, I’ve given you a few things to think about. Becoming a freelance music writer or a music journalist are dream jobs for someone who loves to breathe music their every waking moment. Freelance writing jobs as well journalistic ones are both great options.
Once you feel confident in your abilities, you could blow your own trumpet and perhaps establish your own web presence, taking advantage of music affiliate programs. Who knows? Maybe you could become as popular as some of the other prominent music blogs out there.
Whichever way you go, the sound of all that cash flowing into your bank account could be music to your ears.
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